The work to improve gender equality needs to start at primary school

Amanda Baldwin, design director and senior associate, Gensler

Girls need strong role models to show them that construction isn’t just for boys, says a director at the world’s biggest architect

Why are there so few women in architecture and the construction industry? Let’s look at it in very simple terms. Although women (and men) have worked for the emancipation of women for some time, it’s only been in the last 100 years that we’ve had the vote and the ability to work and earn money of our own – a relatively short history by any comparison. Yet now we are catching up… and fast. And that’s just as true for architecture and the wider construction industry where women are achieving a greater presence than ever before. But we need to continue working collectively, as an industry and as a society, to improve the situation and to get more women into this industry.

How do we do that? At the most basic level, we need to start with education. There is a lot of stereotyping that women experience from a very early age and throughout the education system. We need a wholesale change in the way that we think about education and what it means for the future. Promoting the industry to young women when they are still in school or at college and encouraging them to take STEAM subjects is surely a way forward. My own feeling is that the key to this is providing role models in the relevant industries to show girls what they can achieve if they take these subjects.

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